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STEM Returners programme aims to bring engineers into HS2 construction

Professional Engineering

The STEM Returners scheme aims to address the under-representation of women in the construction industry
The STEM Returners scheme aims to address the under-representation of women in the construction industry

A ‘returners’ scheme aimed at bringing experienced engineers back into the construction industry after a career break has launched today (8 March), on International Women’s Day.

The scheme is a partnership between the STEM Returners programme – supported by the Women’s Engineering Society and the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) – rail, energy and highways construction firm Taylor Woodrow, and Balfour Beatty Vinci Systra JV (BBVS JV), which is working on HS2 construction. 

STEM professionals who have taken a career break often face barriers to re-entering the industry, the partners said. Two-thirds (66%) find the process difficult, and 46% say they face bias due to their lack of recent experience.

“Providing opportunities to professionals who have taken a break might help address the current STEM skills shortage in the UK,” a programme announcement said.

The scheme is designed to provide opportunities to join a range of high-profile infrastructure projects, including the HS2 station in Old Oak Common, North West London.

“Placements at Old Oak Common Station, which is set to be the UK’s best-connected station, will see candidates gain experience on HS2, the largest infrastructure project in Europe – a fantastic opportunity for STEM professionals to return to the industry,” said Natalie Desty, director of STEM Returners, which will source candidates for the programme.

The fully paid placements act as ‘returnships’, re-integrating candidates into ‘inclusive environments’ when they return to work.

The scheme is also aimed at increasing diversity in host organisations. STEM Returners’ ‘population’ of experienced professionals attempting to return to work are 46% female and 44% from ethnic minority groups, compared to 14% female and 9% from ethnic minority groups working in industry.

“As we strive to attract even more women into the sector, International Women’s Day provides a timely opportunity to launch this exciting initiative,” said Alpa Kapasi, equality, diversity and inclusion manager at BBVS.

“This programme is just one of the measures that we are taking to address the under-representation of women and other groups within our industry, whilst also providing opportunities to those who have been out of work for some time. 

“We look forward to welcoming returners to our team and providing an accessible and inclusive environment where they can thrive.”

Since STEM Returners launched in 2017, more than 300 returner candidates have joined programmes across the UK.

To view STEM Returners opportunities, visit the website.

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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